Since the earliest studies on nicotine in the 1960s and 70s, the chemical has received little positive press. Scientists discovered that cigarettes and tobacco products had a strong link to causing cancer. There is a new surge of nicotine products due to the E-cigarette market. With advancements in chemistry, harmful elements can be removed, and nicotine can be isolated. So this begs the question, is nicotine harmful? Does it have any benefits at all?
No Link to Cancer or Heart Disease
There has been no evidence showing a direct connection between nicotine and cancer or heart disease. Cigarettes and cigars may cause cancer, but it is caused by actively smoking nicotine. The tar left over in the body is what does the damage. When examining the effects of nicotine that was not consumed via smoking, there were no adverse health effects.
Why the Bad Reputation?
Nicotine has always been associated with smoking. Smoking has always been associated with addiction and disease. When advertisements against smoking became popular, nicotine was not isolated. Instead, it was included with harmful tobacco smoke. This connection between nicotine and harmful tobacco smoke presented an image to the public that nicotine was a cancer-causing agent, but nicotine suppliers knew otherwise.
What About Addiction?
Nicotine suppliers agree that it is addictive. The way that the chemical is ingested will vary the degree of addiction felt. Smoking nicotine will deliver a rapid hit directly to the brain. Smoking is a method of ingestion that helps the nicotine take action quickly. In cigarettes, additives help break down the body’s resistance to nicotine and deliver it even quicker. This results in greater addiction potential. When using vaping, patches and gum, the delivery of nicotine takes longer and therefore reduces the potential strength of the addiction.
Potential Benefits of Nicotine
A study conducted at Duke University Medical Center discovered that nicotine could improve the mood and focus in those who have ADHD. Additional studies have discovered that nicotine may act as a cognitive enhancer. It can increase alertness in non-smokers and smokers alike. A study done by the Thomas Valley University concluded that nicotine could also act as a memory-improving substance. That study examined non-smokers who chewed nicotine gum and showed a marked increase in short-term memory. The Michael J. Fox Foundation is looking into the promise of nicotine as a potential aid to treat Parkinson’s disease. Preliminary studies on monkeys who ingested nicotine showed reductions in tremors and ticks; terrible symptoms of those suffering from Parkinson’s Disease.